Wadena empathizes with the tornado victims in OklahomaFargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- Staff and students at Wadena high school are grieving along with the tornado victims in Oklahoma, but counting themselves lucky.
By: Becky Parker, WDAY
Fargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- Staff and students at Wadena high school are grieving along with the tornado victims in Oklahoma, but counting themselves lucky.
The high school there was torn apart by a tornado nearly three years ago, during summer break.
A new building opened just this fall. Complete with a storm shelter able to withstand an EF-5 tornado.
In the summer of 2010, Morgan Zeise had just finished her first year at Wadena-Deer Creek High School and Middle School.
On June 17th, she found out that would be the only year she would spend in that building, after it was ripped apart by a tornado.
Morgan Zeise- Sophmore: "It was hard to actually think that you weren't going to go back to your school."
They were lucky that school was not in session at the time and no one was hurt.
But school leaders didn't want to take their chances for future storms.
The new school opened this fall… complete with a $1.2 million dollar storm shelter partially funded by FEMA.
Bruce Boyne- Wadena- Deer Creek Public Schools: "We were quite fortunate to be able to get this grant so that we would have this protection for students, especially, but staff and community members, too."
The shelter holds 1200 people, and can withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour, an EF5 tornado.
Becky Parker: "Just a few weeks ago, students and faculty had their first ever tornado drill in the new shelter. It took about 3 minutes to get all 700 people to safety."
The tornado policy in most schools is to line students up in the hallway that was WDC's plan before building the shelter.
Zeise: "You hope. You duck your head and just hope that nothing is going to fall on you. It makes me feel a lot better, because if that were to happen here again, we know if we were at school and in town we would be safe."
Since the shelter has room for about 500 more people than are in the school, it is also open to the community during an emergency.